“Burrito Man” – Anthony L_Lifeline Dec 2019

My name is Anthony L., I’m 30 years old, and this is my story of the power of God, using people as instruments to steer my life into A.A. and recovery, thus saving my life. When I was 27 living in SLC I had, once again, messed up my probation so I decided to go on the run because I didn’t want to go back to jail. Somehow I ended up finding my way to Merced, CA where I didn’t know a single person. I had left my family and friends, and everyone I knew back in Salt Lake.
Because I didn’t know anyone I continued to get high on meth to stay awake because I didn’t feel safe enough, or have anywhere to sleep. After a couple of weeks I found my way to Madera, CA, yet another city where I knew no one. I started hanging out in this one park where the homeless drug addicts all congregated, and came to know a few of them and started to get high and drunk with them pretty much every day.
Eventually I met a guy who convinced his mom to let me stay with them. After a couple months my friend and his girlfriend decided to leave to Fresno and his mom said I could still live with her even though he was leaving, so I did. Shortly after he left, his sister Carmen just got out of prison after doing 5 years and moved into the house with us. Even though she was 16 years older than me, we got into a relationship together.
Eventually she wanted to move to Fresno with her dad because she was tired of always fighting with her mom over dumb stuff. I cared for her so I agreed to move with her to Fresno. Once we were in Fresno with her dad, the 3 of us were staying in a hostel that was notorious for drugs. We started using drugs and alcohol a lot more than we did before because it was so effortlessly easy to obtain both.
Eventually the drugs and alcohol use got so bad that it started to cause problems between me and my girlfriend and cause the people around us to be paranoid about me because I was the “new” face from out of state, so they didn’t trust me even though I didn’t do anything to give them a reason to think I would do them wrong, they still thought that way. Eventually I was told to leave and even my girlfriend and her dad wanted me to leave because they didn’t want to be “shunned” with me and have to leave the hostel too.
So there I was alone once again, this time on the west side of Fresno, which is considered the worst part of Fresno. I remember thinking, “They’ve left me, I’ve been deserted by my own people, this is the end!” Because I was both heartbroken and completely alone, I began drinking myself into oblivion and getting higher than I’d ever been, almost to the point of overdosing.
One day while I was sitting on the curb getting high and downing a bottle of whiskey alone, a guy came walking up to me and asked if I had a cigarette. I gave him one and he asked me if I was ok. I said what do you mean? He then proceeded to tell me how he had been just down the block talking to some other people and noticed me sitting alone, drinking and getting high. He said that he never walked down that street I was sitting on, but something inside him told him to walk down and talk to me. I told him what I had just gone through with Carmen, her dad, and the hostel, and that was why I was getting drunk and high, to hide from the pain I was feeling.
I don’t know what it was about this guy, who told me to call him “burrito man”, but it was easy to talk to him. Even though he looked like a big scary gang banger, with his bald head and tattoos everywhere, he was kind and attentive to what I was telling him. When I finished telling him my story he then told me, “Now I know why something inside me told me to come talk to you. It was God telling me that you needed someone to help you get out of your darkness, so he sent me.” He then asked if I had heard of this recovery program located in this part of Fresno called The King Of Kings men’s recovery home. When I told him that I had not heard of it he asked if I would be willing to give it a try.
I sat there wondering why this man, who didn’t even know me, would care if I was ok or not and why he wanted to help me when everyone else around me had deserted me and turned their backs on me. I decided to follow this guy to the King of Kings anyway, thinking, “At least this place will give me a place to sleep, eat and shower.” At first I had no intention of staying for more than a week at least, but, next thing I know 2 weeks pass, then a month. Every day, whether it be in our “miracle garage”, the Alano Club, the Westside Fellowship, LOLT, or at the community outreach, we had A.A. group meetings.
I came to like and appreciate the program of recovery, I got my 90 in 90 and more. I did AA every day for 4.5 months before I came back to Salt Lake. I truly believe that my higher power, whom I choose to call God, sent that “burrito man” to help save my life and get me sober, because the way, and amount of drugs and alcohol I was using, it was only a matter of time before it killed me. God works in strange ways, and uses the most unlikely of people at times, as instruments to spread his love and mercy. I thank God for sending Burrito Man into my life and pray that he is still being blessed for the gift God gave him to give to me. -Anthony L.

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